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The bootstrap theory

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Stanley Mandelstam
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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Geoffrey's principal collaborator Stanley Mandelstam never believed in the Chew–what I called the Chew-vian religion. He… he said that if the scattering amplitudes on the mass shell obeying their non-linear relations—if… if the non-linear relations coming from generalized unitarity, dispersion relations and crossing, if they were correct and had solutions on the mass shell, they weren't complicated non-linear equations—wouldn't the linear equations that allowed you to go off the mass shell also have solutions? In which case you could have field theory; because if you… if you extrapolate off the mass shell with the linear relations–linear dispersion relations that take you off the shell–you get the whole of field theory. And so Stanley never believed in this idea but Geoff held it firmly and for all I know still does. So my… although I strongly embraced the… the method, I never had this view of what… what it was, and I believe that I was right.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann is known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: Geoffrey Chew, Stanley Mandelstam

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008